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assumes an erroneous principle in theology. The Armi-
nian placing moral suasion before the work of the Holy-
Spirit, assumes that that work can be secured by the mere
adding of intensity to moral suasion, and he of course is
consistent with himself, when he resorts to a protracted
meeting as a means of producing a revival. He attaches
to human machinery just the power which his theology
attaches to it. But the theology of the Bible, while it
puts no restrictions upon the frequency of our preaching
the gospel in revivals, other than what the health of body
and mind require, gives no occasion or countenance for
the habit of sending abroad for famous revival preachers,
arranging circumstances for scenic effect, and for start-
ling appeals to public curiosity. This in us is bad the-
ology, and bad consistency. It is inculcating error by our
practice, and it brings preachers into temptation to preach
error. The design of the meetings being based on error,
can hardly be carried out without preaching error ; — that
design is, with the aid of animal passions and sympathies,
to condense such a power of suasion on the public mind,
as will draw in converting influence independently of
sovereign grace ; and minds acting in that design, though
unconsciously, will be next to sure to utter thoughts in
their preaching in harmony with it. But the greatest
danger of error, lies in the temptation to omit important
truth. The time is set in which the work must be done.
The preacher's mind is touched by the limits of his time,
and it insensibly seizes upon the topics of hortatory ad-
dress and the instruments of moving the passions, and he
cannot wait to see the salvation of God attending, the
enforcement of the doctrines of the cross. Thus these
doctrines are unconsciously, if not by design, kept out of
view. And though there be, as sometimes there is, a real
work of grace in connection with such meetings, a greater
proportion of spurious conversions occur than under ordi-
nary preaching ; and those really converted, not having


based their experience on a clear perception of the doc-
trines of grace, never come to apprehend them clearly,
nor to love and encourage the preaching of them ; and
churches replenished by them, can ill endure sound doc-

Again, an excess of immediateism pervading the public
mind, is another source of the difficulty. It is very true,
that ministers and churches ought to expect and shape
their exertions for present results, so far as the nature of
the case will admit. But much of the minister's work,
consisting in laying foundations for future results, cannot
be based on the expectation of present effect. And this
work upon foundations, is very essential to the lasting
prosperity of the church, and can no more be dispensed
with than that which looks immediately to the conversion
of sinners. The notion that the present conversion of the
hearer, must, in all circumstances, be the immediate and
only object of every sermon, is a piece of downright
quackery. A missionary among the heathen is there for
the conversion of sinners ; but he finds a vast labor to be
done before he can bring the motives to conversion to
direct and extensive bearing. And much of every minis-
ter's work must respect a good to be compassed in future
years. We are encouraged to labor, under the promise
that he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious
seed, shall come again bringing his sheaves with him.
Our work is compared to that of the husbandman who
waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long
patience for it, until he receive the former and the latter
rain. If Paul was sent to plant and Apollos to water,
they must both wait awhile before they could reap the

The overlooking of this plain matter, in the Christian
economy, has been disastrous, as afi'ecting the policy as to
doctrinal instruction. Preachers have been so anxious to
reap at once, that they have declined to sow seed that


would require time to grow. And so they have either
sown chaff, that could produce nothing, or else a sort of
mnshroom seed, that would produce its best in a night.
Because direct exhortations and urgent appeals to the pas-
sions, seem more immediately related to present results,
than plain instruction in Christian doctrines, they have
been preferred. But the preference is founded on a great
mistake — that of supposing that God has lodged all the
quickening and impressiv^e power of divine truth in a few
detached texts and illustrations, and withheld it from the
great and comprehensive principles of his word. This
sickly reliance on a few favorite topics of exhortation, to
the exclusion of the doctrines, seems like doing battle
with two or three swivels, while we impose silence upon
whole broad sides of heavier guns. Nay, if present im-
pression were the only object ; if the gospel ministry had
come to its last day ; if the morrow's sun were to pilot
in the splendors and the terrors of the judgment day, and
if we had our congregations before us for the last time,
we could do nothing better than to draw the urgency of
our last appeals from the great doctrines of grace. And
yet in the conceit, that the doctrines are not suited to
present effect, they are suffered by some to repose and
rust in the magazine, as antiquated weapons, unsuited to
present modes of battle.

But present results are but a small part of the great
object of ministerial labor. Those labors which look to
future and lasting results, are quite as important as the
others ; and this overhaste to do the work all at once, is
like an attempt to hasten the growth of a plant by pulling
up the blade. It excludes those forms of action and influ-
ence, which gradually bring up a church from weakness
to broad and deep efficiency. It takes away the needful
labor from settling the foundations, and bestows it upon
garnishing the cupola, and so leaves the structure to foe
swept away when the tempest comes. It compels a


church in the choice of a minister, to get one that will
build them up in a year. It makes a demand for a sort
of preacher and preaching, that will annihilate all obstruc-
tions by force of popular and vehement declamation. A
new church perhaps is formed ; the outlays are freely
made in expectation of speedy and rich results. A preacher
is sought for his popularity and immediateism. The cir-
cumstances of the case and public expectation, bind him
to build the church right up at once. He goes to the
work on the false principle, that what is not done imme-
diately is not done at all ; and he proves it true in his
own experience. The tide of popularity which the vehe-
mence of his first efforts drew around him has its ebb,
and having failed to throw the grasp of the powerful doc-
trines upon the heart of his hearers, he has lost his hold
upon them and is left to emptiness. And while he has
failed of his immediate object, he has thrown his hearers
farther from the embrace of gospel doctrines, and from
being rooted and grounded in the truth.

This view of our subject reveals a leading cause of the
fluctuations in the condition of many churches. The
overhaste for results has begot a ruinous policy. It has left
unused the main part of that instrumentality by which the
man of God is thoroughly furnished to every good work,
and by which the church is prepared to fulfil her destiny.
It has rejected the advantage of having public instruction
carried forward on broad principles, and rearing a people
with clear and decided views of divine truth. It has in-
trusted the safety and prosperity of the church upon a frail
basis, by placing the main stress upon a novel and attrac-
tive manner of preaching, without regard to the substance.
Hence the frequent changes. A preacher sought for the
novelty of his manner, must soon give place to a more
novel successor. And popular preachers, as their peculiar
talent thrives best by frequent uprooting and transplant-
ing, arc in a favorable field to cultivate a still more popu-


lar manner. But that church that has a use for the whole
gospel, and seeks to thrive by laying instruction deep in
the public conscience, has a motive to deprecate such
changes. Such a church wants a pastor who expects to
live and die with them, and who, instead of trimming
himself for another market, is preaching as a candidate to
the rising generation of his own parish, and forming the
minds of his young people, to such a clear and copious
reception of the truth, that they may come up around
him, with clear minds and sanctified hearts, to such posi-
tions of influence as only well instructed Christians can
hold. The church and ministry that pursues such a
policy, escape those occasions of disastrous change, inci-
dent to those churches that live or die with the waxing or
waning popularity of their preacher.

Our subject gives us a clue to the reason of that morbid
state of the public mind, which makes it tinder to every
wandering spark of error. The facility with which men,
not deficient in niental capacity, take up the crudest
absurdities — from the philosophic moonshine of the Pan-
theists to the vulgar prophecyings and impostures of the
Mormonites — is a remarkable feature of the age. And
what has caused it ? Surely, if we note well the nature
of these errors, we shall not consider their ready adoption
any compliment to the intelligence of the age ; we shall
not ascribe them to the march of mind, nor say that our
much learning has made us mad. The true cause will
doubtless be found in the gradual retrocession of the influ-
ence of evangelical doctrines over the mass of mind. It
accords with the laws of the human mind, both physical
and moral, that these principles of the divine government
shall be indispensable to its regulation. A failure to hold
vigorously forth the great doctrines of grace, which had
begun before the days of Edwards and Whitefield, let in
a flood of Arminianism. The next natural step of de-
parture developed Unitarianism. And the diffusion of the


principles and spirit of these two systems, as far as they
went, bereft the mind of rudder and compass, and left it
the sport of casual winds. And the state of Unitarianism
at this moment, affords an affecting illustration of the
results of cutting loose from the doctrines of the cross.
Smitten with the disease called transcendentalism, many
of its leading minds are found wandering about in the
ultima thule of error, otherwise called " the latest form of
infidelity," and answering most fitly to this description of
the prophet — " Stay yourselves and wonder, cry ye out
and cry, they are drunken, but not with wine ; they stag-
ger, but not with strong drink : for the Lord hath poured
out upon them a spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed
their eyes ; their prophets and their rulers, and their seers
hath it covered."

The same cause, throwing mind from its moorings, has
begotten nameless empirical theories, and principles of
benevolent action, which have thrown jars and impedi-
ments in the way of Christian benevolence, and which
have arrayed a spurious philanthropy in a warfare against
the settled institutions of Christianity. Here we see the
fruits of being wise above what is written, and of depart-
ing from a vigorous use of the great doctrines of grace.
Such crudities were never conceived in minds that had
been penetrated by the humbling doctrines of the cross.
We may contrast the present prevalence of error, with the
sway of truth in the palmier days of the New England
church, and trace the main deterioration, to the pulpit's
failure to give a certain sound, when a faithful enunciation
of the doctrines of grace, would have been to the public
mind an anchor, sure and steadfast. From generation to
generation, the pulpit has made concessions to the spirit
and demands of error, and forborne to hold forth those
points of God's truth that are offensive to the carnal mind,
and expected that a gospel thus shorn of its strength,
would still continue to do a gospel's work. But it was


like taking away the bones, muscles, and soul of a man,
and continuing the demand of labor from him. It was
to be expected that, so far as the public mind should set
aside those great principles of God's government over
mind, place would be given for those preachers of civil
and ecclesiastical anarchy, who are now demanding the
prostration of all order, and who, under pretence of a
freer and holier gospel, are crying against every gospel
institution, "Rase it — rase it to the foundation thereof."
God has let in upon us just enough of this thing, to
show us where this course of temporizing would end,
and then mercifully restrained the remainder, so as to
give us opportunity to retrace our steps and to ask for the
old paths.

The causes of this decline of doctrinal preaching, are
so multiplied, that the remedy must embrace many par-
ticulars, and its application is the concern of every min-
ister and Christian ; and it is the solemn duty of every
one to stand in his lot, and encourage and sustain a more
full and earnest inculcation of the strong doctrines of the
gospel. I know it is a thankless work. Popular favor is
gained by sailing smoothly along the popular currents,
and not by counterworking them. Yet Christian minis-
ters are supposed to regard their obligations to God, and
to the welfare of a dying world, and when occasion re-
quires, to make a stand for truth against the good pleasure
of men, and against all vitiating tendencies of the public
mind. God said to his ministry of old, " See, I have set
thee over the nations to pluck up and to pull down, and
to destroy, to build and to plant." The building of the
spiritual temple requires the demolishing of opposing
structures. And the planting of the garden of the Lord
is not well done, without the plucking up of noxious
plants. And though this part of the work should require
self-denials, who are we that we should decline it ?

When the interests of Christian truth are at stake, it is


no time to take counsel of our fears, and shrink from
declaring the whole counsel of God. If the cause of
Christ in any place will suffer, by declaring the whole
truth as it is in Jesus, let it suffer. He will see to it. If
speaking the truth in love, in faithfulness and prayer, will
ruin the cause of truth, let it go to ruin. The same
means will lift it up again, and bring it forth to a more
broad and finished glory.





MAY 28, 1844.




.Secontr 32lrftfon.





When the following discourse was preached, it was not the
author's intention to publish it in its present form nor ai the pre-
sent time ; but as it was requested for the press by the Pastoral
Association, and as many erroneous reports have been circula-
ted concerning it, the author was induced to cliange his original
purpose, and give the sermon, without any important alteration,
to the public. He has been accused of making, in the discourse,
an attack ujjon a Christian sect ; but he considered himself as
speaking in the defensive, and as aiming to expose a peculiar
system of sectarian encroachment, the successes of which have
been the occasion of frequent triumph to those who have pursu-
ed it. He could not advocate the proper spirit of liberality among
good men, without censuring that narrow policy which cultivates
the zeal of a partizan more tlian the temper of a Christian, and
inspires a greater love for sectarian distinctions than for evan-
gelical doctrine. He has been also accused of exalting subox-di-
nate considerations to the place of essential truths; whereas it
was his primary aim to dissuade men from all inclination to re-
gard the polity and forms of the church, as a matter of para-
mount concern. He has been complained of as making no dis-
tinction between the evangelical members of an honored sect,
and the semi-Romanists with whom they are ecclesiastically
united ; but he designed to have no controversy Avith those evan-
gelical Christians who are struggling against the intrinsic evils
of their church organization. He holds those worthy men in
high esteem, and regrets the necessity of believing, that their
laudable aims will be eventually thwarted by the inherent ten-
dencies of their church. He delights in their virtues, but la-
ments tiiat their position is so unfortunate, and he cannot repress
a desire that they may abandon the system whicli prevents their
fellowship with other evangelical denominations. No one can
entertain other feelings than those of reverence for William Wil-
berforce, but when we read the letter in which he reproved a


friend for venturing into a dissenter's meeting-house, where the
gospel was to be preached by Robert Hall, we cannot but mourn
that so amiable a philanthropist should allow a consideration of
policy to interfere with the higher claims of christian charity.
The conduct of such men is not so blamable, as their position
is unhappy ; we often venerate their character, while we regret
the constraint in which circumstances have placed them. It has
been objected to the discourse, that it does not canvass the ar-
guments drawn from Scripture and tradition in favor of Episco-
pacy ; but it may be said in answer, that the whole subject of
Episcopacy is introduced only as an illustration of the principal
theme of remark ; it is considered mcidentally and in only a few
of its relations. It may be also replied, that only those claims
of Episcopacy are alluded to which, in point of fad, are found
to have most influence over the common mind. It is not the
biblical nor the historical argument whicli operates most effec-
tively in favor of the Episcopal church; it is the stateliness of
its government, and the alleged gracefulness of its forms. Hence
it is of practical importance to inquire, whether more simplicity
m the organization, and a purer taste in the ceremonial of that
chuiTh, woiild not advance the public good. It has further l)een
objected to the discourse, that it is not written in a style appro-
priate to the pulpit. It were indeed undesirable to adopt all the
phraseology of the sermon for a Sabbath exercise, but as the
sermon was not preached on the Sabbath, and as some of the
ceremonies, to which it alludes, are not fitted of themselves to
suggest a very elevated diction, the author felt himself justified
in employing such phrases as were an honest and natural ex-
pression of his ideas. He has taken no pains to force his style
out of a reasonable fitness to his subject. He hopes t?iat the
many faults of the sermon may be forgiven, that it may not be
regarded as a merely controversial essay, and that it may be of
some little service in cherishing among its readers a preference
for the masculine character anti thoughtfuhiess of our Piuitan
ancestors, above the affected tastes and growing sentimentalism
ef modern tlines.


MATTHEW 5 : 13—16.
Ye are the salt ov the earth: but if the salt have lost his


city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. neither do men
light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candle-
stick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your


Private Christians sustain a peculiar relation to their
fellow men. From this relation result peculiar duties,
duties to themselves, to the world, to the Creator. If
christian laymen are under these especial obligations,
much more are their religious teachers. In a preeminent
sense are the ministers of the gospel " the salt of the
earth, and the light of the world." As they are subjected
in all lands to greater responsibilities than other men, so
are they subjected to very peculiar responsibilities in our
own land, and especially in the home of the Puritans.
The Ministers of New England are, with an emphasis,
required to shine as lights in the world. The causes of
this responsibility are various and easily seen. But with-
out detaining you with any further introduction, I will
proceed at once to the subject of this discourse, and
request you to consider some of the peculiar duties which
are incumhmt on the Neio England Clergy.

In the first place, it is especially incumbent on the

ministers of New England . to be circumspect in their
treatment of the laity. History proves that it is often
not safe to confide the interests of evangelical truth w^ith
church officers, when they are independent of private
'Christians. Hence it is that the ecclesiastical organiza-
tion which we have received from our fathers, manifests
a peculiar deference for laymen. It demands of them
more intelligence and weight of character than are re-
quired of laymen in most other communities. The sup-
ply is equal to the demand. Because our private Chris-
tians are well disciplined in practical theology, weU pre-
pared to discover the general import of a religious system,
we are accustomed to give them peculiar marks of our
Tegard and confidence. But they must not thence be
jflattered into an overweening estimate of their capabili-
ties, nor imagine that they are as competent to pronounce
a decision on the philosophical theories as on the doctrinal
truths of theology. There are disputes pertaining to the
nature of will, to the relations of sin, which try the saga-
city of the most sharp-sighted philosophers, and on which
we should not invite the mechanic and the ploughman
to pass a dogmatical decision. "We should conduct our
scholastic disputes in a scholastic way, and we do a
^wrong to our own minds, when we carry our scientific
difficulties down to the arena of popular dissension.
There is danger that ministers in a republic will be so
much interested in practical services among the people,
as to neglect the scientific study of theological systems.
Hence has it been predicted, that sacred learning would
never flourish under our popular institutions. This makes
it the more needful for us to raise our critical and j)hilo-
sophical discussions above the tribunal of men and wo-
men who are unversed in the ancient languages and but
little skilled in nicely drawn distinctions, and to lay our
dubious questionings before the bench of large-minded

and high-sonled scholars, who have their senses exercised
to distinguish between things that differ. The fact that
our people are so untrammeled in thought and in speech,
so excitable also in their temperament, is an additional
reason for guarding them against activity in controversies
which are too recondite for their apprehension. The
mass of men will not give heed to the idea of these con-
troversies, but will be agitated by the bare words, and
truth and justice will be trampled down under the jeal-
ousies that come from obnoxious phrases. The terms
Fatalist, Antinomian, Pelagian, semi- Pelagian, will often
excite a prejudice which no argument or even Result of
Council will allay ; and the laymen in a free community
should not hear these epithets applied to their pastors,
unless there be indisputable evidence that such op-
probrium is deserved. When the Rationalists of Halle
desired to excite the popular resentment against Prof.
Tholuck, they dropped a few significant words, which
fell like sparks of fire upon gunpowder. The communi-
ty were inflamed, and the evangelical divine was saved
from their indignation by the civil authorities. Very
seldom, however, can a minister in New England shield
himself against a vulgar prejudice by the interposition of
government. He falls a sacrifice to the jealousies of the
people. They are often needless jealousies; for the
people are exercising their sovereignty on themes too
deep, too high, too narrow, too broad for their researches.
They are often hurtful jealousies; for the cause of truth
is injured when discussions, eluding the acumen of long
practised thinkers, are despatched by an outcry of the
multitude. It is not implied, not by any means, that we
should neglect to interest the members of our churches
in theological controversy. In many of our investiga-
tions we need the aid of that sound and sterling sense

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